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Swimming at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games

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Sports:

Host City: Beijing, China
Date Started: August 9, 2008
Date Finished: August 17, 2008
Events: 34

Participants: 1,022 (569 men and 453 women) from 163 countries
Youngest Participant: CMR Antoinette Guedia (12 years, 300 days)
Oldest Participant: USA Dara Torres (41 years, 123 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): USA Michael Phelps (8 medals)
Most Medals (Country): USA United States (31 medals)

Overview

At a normal Olympics the stories of the Games may have been the 25 world records broken during the competition or the double victories of Kosuke Kitajima, Britta Steffen, Steph Rice and Becky Adlington. The first champions from Korea and North Africa would also have been more widely feted as would the win of cancer survivor Maarten van der Weijden in the open water swim.

However the story of swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games was the story of one man. Michael Fred Phelps of Baltimore, USA arrived in China as a six-time Olympic champion, with his sights set on five individual and three relay titles from his third Olympic Games. He left undefeated, having broken a plethora of absolute Olympic records. Mark Spitz's record for most gold medals at a single Games (7 in 1972) fell to Phelps as did the all-time total of Olympic championships held, depending on your view of the official status of the 1906 Olympics, either by Ray Ewry with 10 or shared between Spitz, Carl Lewis, Larysa Latynina and Paavo Nurmi with nine apiece. His eight gold medal haul also equalled his own and Aleksandr Dityatin's shared record of eight medals of any colour at a single Games . Phelps' performance at Beijing was such that his results would have placed him in the top ten of the overall medal table ahead of such countries as France and Spain. His efforts also earned him a profusion of awards including the Laureus and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year awards for 2008.

Elsewhere 41-year-old Dara Torres returned from retirement to become the oldest female medallist in the history of the sport whilst the oldest world record still standing, the women's 800 m set by Janet Evans at the Seoul Games of 1988, was finally broken by Becky Adlington.

The major controversy of the year was the introduction of a new generation of so called "super suits". Woven with polyurethane, spandex and nylon there were claimed to give an aerodynamic advantage of up to 2 % on more traditional materials by more effectively compressing the body and trapping air for buoyancy. Described by some as a form of "technological doping" they were banned from the start of 2009.

Another "star" of the Games was the venue itself. The [Beijing National Aquatics Center], which became popularly known as the "Water Cube", won a succession of architectural awards and was almost universally praised by critics and fans alike. The design leaned heavily on Chinese symbolism and had a bubble effect on the outer walls which showed to brilliant effect when floodlit.

Medalists

Event Gold Silver Bronze
Men's 50 metres Freestyle BRA César Cielo Filho FRA Amaury Leveaux FRA Alain Bernard
Men's 100 metres Freestyle FRA Alain Bernard AUS Eamon Sullivan USA Jason Lezak
BRA César Cielo Filho
Men's 200 metres Freestyle USA Michael Phelps KOR Park Tae-Hwan USA Peter Vanderkaay
Men's 400 metres Freestyle KOR Park Tae-Hwan CHN Zhang Lin USA Larsen Jensen
Men's 1,500 metres Freestyle TUN Oussama Mellouli AUS Grant Hackett CAN Ryan Cochrane
Men's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States FRA France AUS Australia
Men's 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay USA United States RUS Russia AUS Australia
Men's 100 metres Backstroke USA Aaron Peirsol USA Matt Grevers RUS Arkady Vyachanin
AUS Hayden Stoeckel
Men's 200 metres Backstroke USA Ryan Lochte USA Aaron Peirsol RUS Arkady Vyachanin
Men's 100 metres Breaststroke JPN Kosuke Kitajima NOR Alexander Dale Oen FRA Hugues Duboscq
Men's 200 metres Breaststroke JPN Kosuke Kitajima AUS Brenton Rickard FRA Hugues Duboscq
Men's 100 metres Butterfly USA Michael Phelps SRB Milorad Čavić AUS Andrew Lauterstein
Men's 200 metres Butterfly USA Michael Phelps HUN László Cseh, Jr. JPN Takeshi Matsuda
Men's 200 metres Individual Medley USA Michael Phelps HUN László Cseh, Jr. USA Ryan Lochte
Men's 400 metres Individual Medley USA Michael Phelps HUN László Cseh, Jr. USA Ryan Lochte
Men's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay USA United States AUS Australia JPN Japan
Men's 10 kilometres Open Water NED Maarten van der Weijden GBR Dave Davies GER Thomas Lurz
Women's 50 metres Freestyle GER Britta Steffen USA Dara Torres AUS Cate Campbell
Women's 100 metres Freestyle GER Britta Steffen AUS Libby Lenton-Trickett USA Natalie Coughlin
Women's 200 metres Freestyle ITA Federica Pellegrini SLO Sara Isakovič CHN Pang Jiaying
Women's 400 metres Freestyle GBR Becky Adlington USA Katie Hoff GBR Jo Jackson
Women's 800 metres Freestyle GBR Becky Adlington ITA Alessia Filippi DEN Lotte Friis
Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay NED Netherlands USA United States AUS Australia
Women's 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay AUS Australia CHN China USA United States
Women's 100 metres Backstroke USA Natalie Coughlin ZIM Kirsty Coventry USA Margaret Hoelzer
Women's 200 metres Backstroke ZIM Kirsty Coventry USA Margaret Hoelzer JPN Reiko Nakamura
Women's 100 metres Breaststroke AUS Leisel Jones USA Rebecca Soni AUT Mirna Jukic
Women's 200 metres Breaststroke USA Rebecca Soni AUS Leisel Jones NOR Sara Nordenstam
Women's 100 metres Butterfly AUS Libby Lenton-Trickett USA Christine Magnuson AUS Jess Schipper
Women's 200 metres Butterfly CHN Liu Zige CHN Jiao Liuyang AUS Jess Schipper
Women's 200 metres Individual Medley AUS Steph Rice ZIM Kirsty Coventry USA Natalie Coughlin
Women's 400 metres Individual Medley AUS Steph Rice ZIM Kirsty Coventry USA Katie Hoff
Women's 4 × 100 metres Medley Relay AUS Australia USA United States CHN China
Women's 10 kilometres Open Water RUS Lara Ilchenko GBR Keri-Anne Payne GBR Cassie Patten